Photo: Hoiseung Jung/Shutterstock
These extraordinary sites add a new, lesser-known dimension to diving.
FOR MANY dive enthusiasts, an underwater expedition is a prized opportunity to explore the captivating submarine realm. There is an enigmatic grace in the creatures of the deep and endless mystery within subaquatic nature, with a profound history simply waiting to be discovered.
Being amongst these gentle giants in this protected marine sanctuary that is Silver Bank is a life-changing experience, especially when you feel their haunting melody reverberate through your wetsuit. Between January and April, the humpback whales collectively travel down from the icy North Atlantic to Silver Bank’s balmier mating and calving ground. Both Aggressor Liveaboards and Aquatic Adventures offer week-long whale-diving expeditions where you get to approach these graceful creatures in a respectful soft in-water encounter. Prices for a double room aboard begin at 3,795 USD per person depending on your expedition dates.
Photo: Christopher Michel
A short 1.5 hour boat ride from Placencia off the Caribbean coast of Belize lies the Gladden Spit & Silk Caye Marine Reserve, one of the best destinations to swim with the largest fish in the world – docile whale sharks. Contrary to popular belief, whale sharks are completely harmless and accustomed to swimming alongside humans. Whale shark encounters often leave even the most seasoned divers wonderstruck. Traditionally, April and May remain the best periods to drop in on these mild creatures – specifically 2 days before the full moon till 10 days after. While you’re here, check out other Belizean dive spots, the Great Blue Hole and the Belize Barrier Reef, with Splash Dive Centre. They offer an all-encompassing package covering all three sites, week-long accommodation and domestic flights.
Photo: Gregory Smith
The Thistlegorm Shipwreck
Dive into a forgotten era at the bottom of the Red Sea – into the corroded wreckage of one of the most famous and historically rich shipwrecks in the world. Once a British armed freighter, SS Thistlegorm was sunk by a German long-range bomber in the thick of World War II and is now home to glorious marine wildlife. Most of the ship remains intact and remarkably frozen in time, including ammunition, Bedford trucks, BSA motorcycles, Enfield rifles and other war supplies. Liveaboards (ranging from 4-15 days) are recommended to do this impressive wreckage justice; a wide range of comfort levels offer different experiences aboard, from MV Emperor Elite’s unrivalled luxury to a shorter, more budget-friendly dive with King Snefro 5.
Photo: Hannah Hawke
The Silfra Fissure
This is where the Earth cracks open. Located in Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in itself, the Silfra fissure is the only diveable one of its kind, straddling the tectonic boundaries of the Eurasian and the North American plates. The frigid water, or rather meltwater, is supplied by the nearby Langjökull glacier and has been filtered through porous rock for close to a century, thus its longest underwater visibility in the world that may cause divers to lose their sense of depth and induce vertigo. Explore the three sections, the Silfra Hall, Cathedral and Lagoon, each boasting its own unique topography, with Dive Iceland or Magmadive for more personalised trips.
Photo: Gerald Lobenwein
Estonia’s Underwater Prison
About an hour’s drive from capital Tallinn, the bleak stone edifice of Rummu Prison offers a grim commentary on the penal system of the past – with crumbling graffitied walls and imposing barbed wire. Beneath the surface is a whole other world where time has come to a standstill, showcasing untouched garages, mining equipment, a Sunken Forest and underwater houses dating back to the 1940s. As it is private property however, free entry may only be a temporary privilege so plan your visits soon to revel in one of the most intriguing dive destinations in the world. For an optimum experience, get a dive guide from Adventure Centre Rummu to help you navigate these unique waters.
Photo: VisitEstonia – Urmas Haljaste
Did you know?
You can drink the glacial water of Silfra directly during your dive. That’s how pure the water there becomes after its natural filtration!